Semiconductor

Circuit board

Since the 1970s the semiconductor industry has undergone a tremendous development, moving from process nodes of several micron to sub-hundred nanometer and increasing transistor count from a few thousand to billions. Historically, the semiconductor industry has been one of the driving factors for Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM) and Focused Ion Beam (FIB) development along with the associated analysis techniques.

One of the primary applications for Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (EDS) in the semiconductor industry is failure and contaminant analysis. Due to the small feature size, requirements for surface sensitivity and beam sensitivity of the sample, the analysis is often carried out at very low acceleration voltages (1-5 kV). Peak overlaps in the low energy region and limited X-ray yield make this type of application particularly challenging though the transmission properties of the silicon nitride window in EDAX detectors offer significant improvements compared to polymer windows but without any of the dangers of a windowless system.

Often a wide range of layers are grown on top of the semiconductor wafer as part of processing, where each layer can have its own characteristics and composition. The Electron Backscatter Diffraction (EBSD) detector can reveal to which extent these layers are grown as amorphous or crystalline structures and give information of crystal formation and growth. An example of changing structures could be metal interconnects, where thermal cycling can lead to grain growth and changes in conductivity, resulting in device failure.

Additional Applications
Characterizing of Twins in OIM